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July 30, 2013 > Entertain with a purpose in the language classroom

Entertain with a purpose in the language classroom

By Linda Ko

A full agenda is lined up for the Lesson of the Day. Grammar, writing, vocabulary; students are here to learn, not to be entertained. Maybe you have heard this statement from co-workers, or even friends of co-workers. In my first year of teaching, this saying was so ingrained in my teaching routine that I didn't realize why my lessons seemed so lifeless. I would notice the students' energy level drop and sneaky eyes glance at the clock every two seconds. It came to the point that even I wondered if class was over yet. What was going on?

Flash forward five years to life in 2013. At times, teaching can still be a little rough around the edges, but fortunately I have come across a new motto: "Entertain with a purpose." Language textbooks that are created for class use are intended to complement activities from the real-world, resources that teachers have to find or create to accommodate student levels and needs. To create an energetic learning environment, you must show the energy vibe yourself. Try to make your class more dynamic by implementing music, puzzles, role-playing, game-show themed vocabulary review, or even YouTube videos to illustrate the main take-away ideas.

One great site to check out is: esltopics.com. This site offers "free and easy-to-use printable classroom activity handouts for teachers." No matter what class you are teaching, the most valuable skill that students will gain is becoming a better communicator, whether it is through writing, listening, or speaking. This site offers different topics to supplement lessons, including: Word Banks, Vocabulary Quizzes, Interactive Crosswords, Word Searches, Discussion Activities, Advice Columns, Board Games, and Bonus Handouts.

In particular, the use of role-playing dialogues and advice columns has proven to be the most applicable in many students' lives, due to the nature of dealing with everyday problems and scenarios. After mixing up the lessons with various educational games to practice the newly learned speaking and writing skills, the students are more engaged and want to practice on their own accord. So have some fun while teaching, and explore the possibilities of entertaining with a purpose!



Linda Ko recounts is an English as a Second Language (ESL) educator. Ko teaches beginning level English to international students from Asia and India at Silicon Valley University (SVU), a private university in San Jose. She received a Master's and Bachelor's degree in Linguistics and has been teaching ESL at various Bay Area institutions for the past five years.

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